Celton Manx Castletown Cushags ran away with PwC Mixed Hockey Division Two this season, but needed to ensure they didn’t lose by five goals to second-placed LJ Skye Ramsey Rookies at the NSC on Saturday to secure the title.
The match started slowly in horrendous conditions, as neither team was able to dominate a scrappy first half.
Perhaps conscious of the cushion that his team had at the top of the league, Cushags captain Anthony Cooke set his team up defensively. This gave the greens greater possession of the ball, but they couldn’t break through as Paul Wiseman and Isobel Kermode defended stoutly.
As the rain fell, Ramsey’s Matt Greenbank came closest in the first half when a strike from a penalty corner flashed just wide of the post.
Both teams made changes at half-time in order to increase their attacking potential. Rookies brought on Keith Corkill while Cushags pushed Graeme Brown higher up the pitch.
It was the league leaders who struck first after quick-thinking from young Robin Masson following a foul. He played a one-two with Brown which let Dani Kelly in and, after a good save from Ramsey keeper Dom Howard, Masson finished with aplomb from the top of the D.
The lead was soon doubled as Cushags continued to show their attacking edge, Masson again finding the net after the best move of the match - being played in by the consistently brilliant Katy Stopford.
Ramsey weren’t beaten and their midfield of Corkill and young Toby Wiltcher caused Castletown numerous problems all game. They scored the goal their performance deserved after a period of prolonged pressure, Corkill striking a short corner which unluckily caught a red foot on the line. Dan Stevenson made no mistake with the resultant penalty stroke.
As time ran out, it was all Ramsey pressure but to no avail.
Mikey Lee, in goals for Castletown, made save after save as the southern side claimed victory, capping a memorable league campaign to clinch the championship.